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Old 09-06-2013, 07:22 PM   #1
stgault
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Question Astra buying advice wanted

My daughter test drove an 08 Astra a couple days ago and really loved it! It's got 66,000 miles and is selling for $8,000. I've tried researching online about scarcity of parts and cost of maintenance and repairs due to Saturn being out-of-business, and have read conflicting info. I thought I'd go to the source -- you guys will know better than anyone if it's more difficult, frustrating or expensive to have your Astra worked on as opposed to cars like Civic, Corolla, Mazda 3, Focus, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

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Old 09-06-2013, 08:52 PM   #2
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2009 Astra XR
2008 Outlook XR
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

From reading the forums, it seems that finding a good dealer is key.

Some seem to have no idea what to do with the Astra (or any Saturns), while others seem eager for the business and picked up all the Saturn mechanics when they folded. You may want to ask around to other Astra owners if you are looking for a good dealer.

I've never had any problems getting parts, but then again I haven't ordered that many parts. Anything I've ordered myself (things like OEM sparkplugs or wipers) or the dealer have needed was available within a few days...and some of the parts were pretty obscure.

I also haven't had many significant major problems so that may be why I have not had dealer frustrations. I had a wheel bearing hub go under the bumper to bumper warranty plus two cosmetic items - pitting of the roof rails (part arrived in 3 days) and a seat belt stop that had popped off. All items were addressed quickly and to my satisfaction.

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Old 09-06-2013, 09:56 PM   #3
chadbt
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

If the car is in outstanding condition, and you can verify it's been taken care of, then maybe I'd buy it.

But my Astra - bought new and maintained perfectly - recently needed a serious repair that involved GM Engineers and an agreement to pay half - so it only cost me $1000 out of pocket. (I'm greatly displeased with that, for the record.)

Rear brakes needed to be done, too, and that was $300. At 73,000 miles.

You asked, and my recent experiences say to be cautious... But it's been a great car, and I'm not completely soured. Yet.

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Old 09-07-2013, 12:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbt View Post
If Rear brakes needed to be done, too, and that was $300. At 73,000 miles.
What do you mean by done? 300 seems pretty steep for doing brakes. Brakes are from the standard GM parts bin.

If you are used to owning Japanese cars and doing everything yourself, this car can be rather frustrating in my experience. I think that might be true of any American and many European cars though. If you take it to the dealer all the time, I doubt the labor rates differ all that much between cars. Most of the things that go wrong can probably be had without too much trouble, but there are parts you have to gets from Europe.

The Astra is an oddball in the US, but it probably would make an excellent car for a young kid. Its low power, drives predictable, and very practical. Its a difficult decision, but for that money you would have to get and older car with more miles if you wanted a civic or mazda 3.

The Astra was a huge world wide seller although it did extremely poor in the US.

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Old 09-07-2013, 03:46 AM   #5
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbt View Post
But my Astra - bought new and maintained perfectly - recently needed a serious repair that involved GM Engineers and an agreement to pay half - so it only cost me $1000 out of pocket.
Chad I would be interested in hearing more about that, how about starting a thread?

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Old 09-07-2013, 07:30 PM   #6
stgault
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Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

Thanks for the responses. I'd be curious to know how many 08 Astra owners can say they've never had any problems. The car seems to be pretty reliable from what I can tell.

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Old 09-07-2013, 08:16 PM   #7
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

I have just under 69,000 miles on my Astra, and it's been trouble free, other than a radio volume knob that didn't work linearly sometimes, so they replaced the radio under warranty.

I changed my rear brake pads, but realized once I saw the pads, that I probably could have waited quite a while still. I probably had 40% of the pad left. The fronts seem to still have about 50% of the pad. I did the rear brakes myself and didn't replace the rotors, but pads ran me about $30, and I spent another $25 at Harbor Freight for a nice caliper wind back tool set (the 6-sided dice windback tool doesn't fit our brakes). So about $55 and 2 hours of my time was all that my brakes cost me. I've found that the Astra is pretty easy to work on. Oil changes are easy, as are sparkplug replacements. The cabin air filter is a bit tough, but doable. Parts are available, though sometimes they are cheaper from Europe.

One word of advise is that you'll need to budget some money for a timing belt replacement, as that will be due at 75,000 miles. Other than that, the only major maintenance that should have been done up to now is changing the sparkplugs at 25,000 mile intervals, and changing the brake fluid, oil changes, and air and cabin air filters.

According to truedelta.com, the Astra is more reliable than the average compact cars that year. I participate at this site and others at the forum do as well. http://www.truedelta.com/Saturn-ASTRA/reliability-802

I don't have any experience with the automatic, but the manual transmission has been solid, and I haven't heard of anyone having to replace the clutch yet from normal wear and tear.

I still enjoy the car. This has been the longest that I've ever kept a car, and it still drives great, and I still enjoy driving it.

People's biggest complaints seem to be the lack of an aux input for the stereo, and the lack of cupholders. There are solutions for the aux input that cost under $100 if you are somewhat handy. I've written up guides on a few of them.

I'd say go for it if you like the car. It's pretty safe with 6 airbags, stability control, traction control, active head restraints, seat belt pretensioners, and abs. That's more than most 2008 cars had.

I've gotten an overall average of 29.3 mpg with mine so far. MPG does drop off fast when you go above 70 mph (it needs a taller top gear in my opinion), but it does pretty well around town.

...
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Past Cars: 08 Astra, 12 Enclave, 09 Traverse, 05 Vue, 04 Grand Prix, 00 Alero, 97 LeSabre, 72 Cutlass S

Last edited by emg77; 09-07-2013 at 08:25 PM..

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Old 09-09-2013, 09:18 PM   #8
tackepj
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2008 Astra XE
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

I'm up to only about 42,000 miles, bought new in March 09. I've really enjoyed driving this car, and I have no desire to replace it. Hatchbacks are incredibly versatile, but few (at least in early 09) drive as nicely as this one. I especially like the solid feel of the car and how it handles, but like the others said, a 6th gear would be appreciated. I'm at 32.2 mpg since April this year, with a pretty short, stop-and-go commute and some highway. I'm satisfied with the mpg, but newer cars would probably do better. Oh, and I love the mega sunroof.

As far as other foibles, the lack of an aux input is unfortunate, and the rest of the stereo is pretty mediocre. I added a Boomerang armrest and use it when I want a cupholder, so that isn't an issue. I have a few rattle here and there, but nothing severe. Also, the A/C on this car seems to put a noticeable drag on the engine. Someone on this forum said that it felt like you were towing a bus when the A/C is on, and I'd say that's a pretty good analogy!

As far as problems go, I haven't had any to speak of. I do oil changes and spark plug changes myself, and it's pretty straightforward. I'm lucky to have access to an excellent former Saturn tech, who's willing to still work on Saturns (from a Kia dealership). Since we have this oddball car AND a Vue Hybrid, I need that peace of mind.

Overall, the car's a hoot to drive and has been good to own. As our two kids grow, it'll get a little tighter, but for now I have no desire to replace it.

...
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Current: 2008 Astra XE

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Old 09-12-2013, 12:45 PM   #9
SPM
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2008 Astra XE
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

So far what has been changed on warranty: Oxygen sensor, Change intake manifold valve, change fuel filler pipe, changed TCM, regulator in window, horn

Out of pocket - Change sparkplugs twice, change tires at 65K miles, change air filters, brake pads, rear brake caliper, rotars, recondition alternator, newbattery, timing belt, camshaft sensor (they reufsed to admit it is a warranty part and the new one they put in seems to be having problems).

The coolant sensor is bad and has been for 2-3 years, constantly tells me coolant is low.

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Old 09-21-2013, 01:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

I think a $25 Haynes or Chilton manual could get you through most repairs. I have been looking for an Astra recently, they seem simple enough to me. I wouldn't sweat the timing belt either. I like the beam rear axle, to eliminate getting reamed by alignment shops. I can align my Saturn SL myself though. Girlfriend's L200 is a pig as far as the rear suspension
As for the missing aux input, Crutchfield will sell you a new stereo for reasonable cash.
As long as you are looking at remove and replace things (like SPM above) life is pretty good. Once you get into the engine, tranny, or A/C system, not so good.
I would class Mazdas as "odd ball" cars. Just aren't a lot of them running around. They seem to be the Chryslers of Japan. Just my $0.02

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Old 09-24-2013, 09:40 AM   #11
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2008 Astra XE
Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

The coil pack went out this past Friday, $380 for the part.

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Old 10-29-2013, 06:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Astra buying advice wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by stgault View Post
My daughter test drove an 08 Astra a couple days ago and really loved it! It's got 66,000 miles and is selling for $8,000. I've tried researching online about scarcity of parts and cost of maintenance and repairs due to Saturn being out-of-business, and have read conflicting info. I thought I'd go to the source -- you guys will know better than anyone if it's more difficult, frustrating or expensive to have your Astra worked on as opposed to cars like Civic, Corolla, Mazda 3, Focus, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!
Don't.

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